Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, Reem Assil, Louis Tikaram, and Brandon Jew talk about food and the immigrant experience.
Credit: Courtesy of Sergey Kolivayko

There are a lot of great TV shows about chefs, but The Migrant Kitchen stands out with its unwavering focus on California restaurants that are inspired by the immigrant experience. The third season of this Emmy-winning Life & Thyme show, which premieres November 7 on KCET in Southern California and November 13 on Link TV nationwide, is here to remind viewers that cooking wonderful food is about simultaneously celebrating your heritage and forging new identities.

“Let’s take that box that gets put around Mexican food; let’s, like, tear the wall down,” chef Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins says in the trailer for the third season.

Zepeda-Wilkins’ El Jardin in San Diego is a restaurant that serves birria ramen for brunch. As Zepeda-Wilkins told Food & Wine in a July interview, “Mexican food is a cuisine of immigrants” and she wants to acknowledge the history of the spice trade and slave trade.

“It’s not a beautiful rainbows and sunshine kind of story,” Zepeda-Wilkins said. “But at the end of the day, it happened.”

This sentiment sums up so much of what drives The Migrant Kitchen, a show that shines a light on how strife and the loss of basic human rights have been part of the recipe for so many cuisines Americans love.

Consider L.A.’s Factor’s Famous Deli, a Jewish institution whose patriarch and matriarch survived the Holocaust and met in a Romanian school that was liberated. Other stars of the third season include Oakland chef Reem Assil, a Palestinian who “wanted to mainstream the concept of Arab street food” and ended up with a 2018 Food & Wine Restaurant of the Year and also a collaboration with Daniel Patterson.

Migrant Kitchen Season 3
Credit: Courtesy of KCET

This is no doubt an odd time in history to talk about the greatness of the American Dream, but the power of food to shatter boundaries is more important than ever.

“When I came to L.A., everyone wanted to have a title for what I was cooking,” E.P. & L.P.’s Louis Tikaram, an Aussie-born chef with Fijian, Indian, and Chinese roots, told Food & Wine last year. “’Are you cooking fusion? Are you cooking Pacific Rim?’ I was like, ‘What the fuck is Pacific Rim?’ It’s just modern Asian. Basically, whatever is tasty goes on the menu. It doesn’t matter if it’s Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Indonesian, or even Mexican.”

Credit: Courtesy of KCET

Here’s the lineup for The Migrant Kitchen’s third season:

“The Jewish Deli”- Wed., Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. PT on KCET / Tues., Nov. 13 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV

Featuring the Markowitz family behind Factor’s Famous Deli and Micah Wexler and Michael Kassar of Wexler’s Deli in L.A.

“Sequoia Sake” - Wed., Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. PT on KCET / Tues., Nov. 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV

Featuring Jake Myrick and Noriko Kamei of Sequoia Sake in San Francisco

“El Jardín”- Wed., Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. PT on KCET / Tues., Nov. 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV

Featuring Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins of El Jardín in San Diego

“Mister Jiu’s Chinatown”- Wed., Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. PT on KCET / Tues., Dec. 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV

Featuring Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco

“Man’oushe” - Wed., Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. PT on KCET / Tues., Dec. 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV

Featuring Reem Assil of Reem’s and Dyafa in Oakland and Lamees Dahbour of Mama Lamees in San Francisco

“Louis & Jazz” - Wed., Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. PT on KCET / Tues., Dec. 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV

Featuring Jazz Singsanong of Jitlada and Louis Tikaram of E.P. & L.P. in L.A.